Next Stop: Liège, Belgium – Meeting International d’Athlétisme de la Province de Liège
Meet Results Link: http://www.timetronics.be/results/luik2017/event004h04.html
Good day to you, and I hope you have been enjoying the last few summer days as much as I have! The next stop on this tour leads into my second European race in Liège, Belgium.
To follow suit with my earlier advice in a foreign circuit: Expect things to go wrong and embrace them. In this circuit I was a rookie, and as a result made some rookie mistakes to learn from.
First, attending this meet was a typical ~60 minute train away from Leuven. Earlier in the week, I learned I was eligible for a GoPass which meant I could travel unlimited train rides within Belgium at a very reduced price. Naturally I assumed it would be a good idea to save time by going to the station early and purchasing my pass the day of. After standing in line, and watching all of my teammates purchase either their GoPass or one-day ticket, I began to consider the idea I had maybe chosen the wrong line up. When it was finally my turn, I was informed the required computer wasn’t working and I would have to go line up again in a different row. So much for arriving early. At this point I was concerned of having enough time to purchase a regular ticket and still be on time for the scheduled departure. Needless to say I managed to create an extreme time constraint. In the end I received my GoPass, ran to my platform and boarded the train with less than a minute to spare. Crisis averted, but with a lot of stress and nerves! On the flip side, I had an early verification I would have adrenaline that night. The panic of likely missing the train to arrive at the meet triggered my adrenal glands.
Second mistake, with time to spare, we rationalized a 2km walk to the track was a good idea. The last meet we did it in Ninove as a big group, and that worked out, so why fix an idea that isn’t broken? In our case, the 2km turned out to be steep, cobblestone, and all uphill. My question is who put a track at the top of a hill? Without shame, I’ll admit I was sweating and took a break half way up. Evidently we made it on time to the meet, but in hindsight, diverting that hill with a quick taxi ride would certainly be worth it for future reference. I must mention the real hero of this lesson: Brad Curry, our Physiotherapist. Not only did he climb the hill with us, but he also carried his practitioner’s table with him all the way up! Very impressive Brad!
The next mistake I made was misjudging how humid it would be when the sun came out after the thunderstorm. I’ll admit, I am a person who sweats a lot on a normal day. On a day this warm and humid I found myself trying to quiet the voice in my mind asking, How are you going to stay hydrated? Answer: Keep drinking fluids, add some electrolytes to my water to replenish what I am losing in sweat, and find the shade! It was commented on that I looked like I had showered at this meet, and I know it is not because I looked fresh. I did wear deodorant so at the very least I didn’t smell bad.
When I heard the announcement of final call to check-in at the call-tent it finally hit me, 400m race time! Just one all out effort of one lap. The music was turned up and the vibe was exciting at the track. The unexpected surprise was how many people were in attendance and the amount of fun this atmosphere was. I was nervous knowing I was about to race some fast girls in a race I had not been specifically training for, but the energy was so fun I couldn’t wait to be a part of it! I finally understood, This is what a European race is! There was some fear, but I had never felt so proud to be introduced as a Canadian athlete at the start line. In hindsight there are lots of technical things I would like to have and know I could have run better in this race, but I did end up with a new 400m PB so there were no complaints on my end.
The final mistake I made on this trip was evident upon return to Leuven after the meet. I was still on an energy high from an evening race, but more notably I was really hot and sweaty from the most recent cycle back to the flat. When we walked inside, it felt like a sauna because the window had been closed and the blinds were open. This meant the late afternoon sun blazed in all day with zero air circulation. After eating some food with sustenance and dropping our gear off, both my roommate Casey and I realized how sticky and hot our flat was. There was no way either of us were going to be able to go to sleep in that kind of heat. Plus she had a PB in the 400m that night too, so we were both still feeding off one another’s energy. Solution: go on the slowest, most relaxing, enjoyable bike ride one could imagine. It was 11:00PM on a Wednesday, there was no traffic, limited pedestrians, a safe neighbourhood, and an open road with a cool breeze. I was so relaxed after our bicycle ride that when we returned, I couldn’t comprehend the joking comment suggesting a drink on the town being better than that bike ride. Plus it had been hot on some previous days as well. As a quick fix solution I may have purchased a kids pool for ice tubs because our bathroom was only a shower stall without a bathtub. During our bike ride we stopped at a couple night shops that might sell ice to make an ice bath. We managed to fit the pool in the flat, but unfortunately were unable to find ice for it that night!
After an icy cold shower, and significantly lowered body temperature, I had no troubles falling asleep that night. In conclusion, I learned the importance of embracing the hype of an international race and more importantly the roller coaster of emotions and situations I found myself in. I have heard of way worse things going wrong before a race, but I am still happy to know when it was time to run, I was able to do just that!
Stay tuned for the third race of the circuit in Heusden-Zolder!
PS: I have shared the few photos of I had taken of this meet